Special Constables are unpaid, part-time police officers who work in some of the most important areas of policing, using their spare time to make a difference. They commit to a minimum of 16 hours a month, although many people do significantly more as the hours can be flexible to fit around work and home life commitments.

Fully-trained Special Constables have full police powers, wear a police uniform and work alongside regular police officers and police staff, with opportunities for promotion to develop their leadership and management skills.

Benefits

Special Constables learn about policing, develop new skills, enjoy new experiences, and protect people from harm. The training provides Special Constables with the abilities and confidence to handle even the most difficult of situations. It will include learning:

  • about the police service and the duties of a police officer
  • the powers of arrest
  • common crimes
  • personal protection
  • how to prepare evidence for court
  • personal protection
  • how to deal with awkward situations or people

And as a result, Special Constables discover new things about themselves and the depths of their capabilities.

In their work and their behaviour Special Constables will demonstrate that they value our communities and want to protect them from harm.

Special Constables are unpaid volunteers but are entitled to certain allowances, including travel to and from their place of duty, boot allowance and compensation for any loss of earnings if they are required to attend court. The uniform is provided free of charge.

Many new Special Constables hope to move on to become a regular officer, either with West Mercia Police or with another UK force. The experience gained as a Special Constable is invaluable and can be a great stepping stone for furthering a career in the police and developing a role outside the police service.

Being a Special Constable can also be a long-term commitment: there are several Special Constables in West Mercia Police who have completed over ten years' service and have made a real difference to our communities.

Roles and responsibilities

Special Constables work across a variety of policing teams, and when fully-trained can do everything that a regular police officer does, including:

  • patrols on foot and in police vehicles
  • roads policing
  • searching people, vehicles and premises
  • investigating crime, arresting suspects, taking statements from witnesses
  • policing major events such as festivals and football matches
  • tackling local issues, eg anti-social behaviour, harassment, etc

After initial training Special Constables will be attached to a Tutor Constable for approximately 9-12 months. During this time they will complete a personal development portfolio covering various aspects of policing and then be signed off for independent patrol.

For those officers who commit the time and dedication there are many opportunities available, and they are able to apply to work with the following teams when vacancies are available:

Patrol: these are the frontline, uniformed teams that respond to 999 and 101 calls, as well as proactively patrolling and dealing with any crimes they come across.

Safer Neighbourhoods Teams: these teams are based at local police stations across the West Mercia policing area. They deal with community issues, anti-social behaviour and long-term problems in specific areas.

Operational Policing Units: these contain Roads Policing Officers, Authorised Firearms Officers and Dog Handlers working on the frontline as well as being deployed with pre-planned operations Criminal

Investigation Department: this consists of plain clothes officers dealing with burglaries, serious violent incidents, sexual crimes and the management of prolific offenders.

Police Support Units: these are the public order units that support other police services at football matches, protests and marches, etc. They also respond to incidents of major disorder.

Training and development

Learning and Development Trainers provide the necessary knowledge and understanding to meet the needs of the organisation and that of the College of Policing. These are delivered throughout phases one and two over the 12 month Accompanied Patrol period.

What does training involve?

Phase one training

Phase one of the training consists of a variety of inputs:

  • Law - including legislation such as the Theft Act, Criminal Attempts Act, Offences Against The Person Act, Public Order Act and the Misuse of Drugs Act
  • Officer Safety Training - first aid training and physical tactics, including restraints, handcuffing, use of PAVA incapacitant spray, auto lock batons, safe ways of searching and basic water rescue training. This also includes interactive training on using the National Decision Model and how it applies within West Mercia Police's Vision and Values
  • The use of police 'Airwave' handheld radios
  • Custody Procedure - how to present a person under arrest to the Custody Sergeant and what happens within police custody suites
  • Training coverage on the European Convention on Human Rights and how this ties in with police operations in the UK

The programme incorporates distance learning and experiential learning, in addition to traditional classroom-based learning. This means that during some weeks officers are involved in live training in a police facility classroom; and during other weeks they will take part in 'blended learning', working from home or taking part in online web seminars with the trainers.

The training programme concludes with an examination.

Phase two training

During the 12 months candidates complete an Accompanied Patrol programme, as part of phase two of the training. They accompany experienced police officers, and have further mandatory classroom-based training sessions to build on their knowledge and understanding, and incorporate what they have learnt in an operational context.

Candidates also work through a portfolio to record the good work they do in order to meet the National Occupational Standards for a Special Constable.

During this time candidates will also attend three further training sessions covering more advanced operational skills.

They have to demonstrate that they are 'safe and legal' in certain core policing skills; this is recorded on Police Action Checklists (PACs) in a portfolio, similar to those that are used by regular officers in their initial training.

Following the successful completion of the 12-month programme, there is no formal qualification awarded, but through the evidence obtained candidates will be designated to be 'safe and legal' to patrol independently.

Progress reviews

Candidates are responsible for monitoring their own progress and maintaining up to date and accurate records of evidence in their portfolio.

Supervisors are responsible for monitoring their progress while they are developing in the role and gathering evidence for independent patrol status. An experienced officer will verify the evidence claimed or examined.

Those undergoing the training may patrol with experienced Special Constables or regular police officers while working towards Independent Patrol status.

Members of the Special Constabulary Management Team are responsible for assessing candidates' written evidence and signing off the College of Policing National Occupational Standard PACs.

Supervisors should assign officers to work on patrol shifts alongside regular Patrol Officers or Senior Special Constables. The supervisor should be sighted on the core competencies and activities contained within the trainee's portfolio and safely expose them to situations and incidents to develop their skills.

Candidates' progress will be reviewed regularly by their line supervisor, and will incorporate the regular supervisor on the shift the trainee is assigned to.

Independent patrol

Candidates will only achieve Independent Patrol Status once they have attended all phase one and phase two sessions, passed the final written exam to ensure knowledge and understanding, and completed all elements of their portfolio to demonstrate their performance.

Positive Action

West Mercia Police values diversity and recognises that people with a variety of skills, attitudes and experiences, from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, bring fresh ideas and perspectives to policing. We are committed to fostering a workforce that is representative of the communities we serve, and encourage individuals from under-represented groups and communities to join us. To find out more, read about how our Positive Action programme supports applications from all under-represented groups, encompassing gender, people from Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME), disability and sexual orientation, or email our Positive Action team.

Eligibility criteria

The information below details the basic eligibility criteria for Special Constables. Every circumstance is unique to each person of course, so if you have any queries about this information please get in touch with the Special Constabulary Recruitment Team.

Age

To apply to the Police Service you must be at least 18 years old. There is no upper limit.

Nationality

To be eligible for appointment you must be a British citizen or a citizen of a country that is a member of the European Economic Area, or Switzerland.  Commonwealth citizens and other foreign nationals are also eligible but only if they are resident in the UK free of restrictions.

If you have recently resided abroad we need to be able to check your previous three years, including employment, education and/or residency.

Health and fitness

Applicants must be in good health, of sound constitution and able both physically and mentally to perform the duties of a Special Constable once appointed. The Home Office guidance states that applicants must have a body mass index (BMI) between 18-30. 

Successful applicants will be asked prior to appointment to complete a medical questionnaire and an eyesight test.

Qualifications

Qualifications are not a requirement for appointment. However, you will need to pass the selection process, which includes a written test.

Membership of British National Party or similar

The Police Service has a policy of prohibiting any of their officers, staff or volunteers from becoming members of the British National Party (BNP), Combat 18 or the National Front, whose aims, objectives or pronouncements may contradict the duty to promote race equality. If you are a member of the BNP or similar, your application will be rejected.

Criminal convictions

Convictions or cautions will not necessarily preclude you from appointment. It will depend on their nature and the circumstances of the offence. Failure to disclose convictions or cautions will, however, result in your application being refused.

Previous applications

If you have previously applied to join the Police Service and been unsuccessful, you may not re-apply for six months from the time you were notified of the outcome of your last application.

Business interests

Certain occupations may preclude applicants from becoming special constables, for example neighbourhood and street wardens and other uniformed patrol wardens, and those involved in the administration of the law. Other roles which are precluded include security occupations which hold a Security Industry Association (SIA) licence.

Financial position

Special Constables are in a privileged position with regard to access to information and could be considered potentially vulnerable to corruption. Applicants to the Police Service should not therefore be under pressure from undischarged debts or liabilities and should be able to manage loans and debts sensibly. Most applicants have debts, such as mortgages, undischarged student or other loans, and credit/store cards. Debts which are within your means and are manageable are not a bar to appointment.

Applicants who have existing County Court judgements outstanding against then or have been registered as bankrupt and their bankruptcy debts have not been discharged will not be considered.

Applicants who have discharged County Court judgements may be considered.

Applicants who have been registered as bankrupt and their bankruptcy debts have been discharged will only be considered after three years from discharge of the debt.

Applicants who are the subject of a current individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) may not be considered.

Tattoos

Tattoos are not a bar to appointment. However, some tattoos could potentially offend members of the public or colleagues, or could bring discredit to the Police Service. It depends on their size, nature and location. If you have tattoos on your face, neck, forearms or hands you will be asked to provide at least two photographs of each tattoo.

Tattoos are unacceptable if they:

  • undermine the dignity and authority of the office of constable
  • could cause offence to members of the public or colleagues and/or invite provocation
  • are garish or numerous or particularly prominent
  • indicate unacceptable attitudes towards women, minority groups or any other section of the community
  • indicate alignment with a particular group that could give offence to members of the public or colleagues
  • are considered to be discriminatory, rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating

Still not sure?

Take a look at what our Special Constables have to say about life on the beat.

Apply today

To start your application to be a Special Constable with West Mercia Police, please click here.